The man who entered the game leading the league in drops, put two more passes on the ground in the fourth quarter.
“Right now, I’m not playing at a high level,” White said. “I’m not really helping my team. I have to fix myself so that we can perform better. We’ll get better.”
White led the NFL with 115 receptions last season. So what’s the problem this season?
You could make a case that the arrival of rookie Julio Jones is taking away some of White’s opportunities. You could say the play of the offensive line hasn’t given quarterback Matt Ryan enough time to find White. You could also point to the fact that White’s not 100-percent healthy, after suffering a thigh bruise in the preseason.
But I’m not going with any of that. I’m putting the blame for this one on the lockout.
There was a reason why White had a career year in 2010. It was because he and Ryan had a full offseason together for the first time. In 2008, Ryan had just been drafted and wasn’t around for the entire offseason program. In 2009, White was seeking a new contract and missed parts of the offseason program and training camp before getting a new deal.
Last year, Ryan and White worked together almost every day during the offseason and the results showed on the field. I’m not blaming the lockout for many things, because all teams had to deal with it.
Like a lot of teams, the Falcons had a fair amount of players-only workouts. White was there for some, but not all, of those. He didn’t get enough work with Ryan this offseason, and the results are showing on the field.